LSPR – Rally America Newsletter – I’ll Take Second!

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I’ll Take Second!

The youngest driver in the Rally America Championship Series would be just fine with the runner-up spot thank you.

By David Gee

19-year-old college student Kyle Sarasin figured this year was going to be one big learning experience.

Instead he is heading to the Lake Superior Performance Rally in second place in the championship standings.

“The season has really worked out and has been timed perfectly,” stated Sarasin modestly. “We did awesome at the beginning of the year and had a great result at the first event of the year at Sno*Drift. But then we had some mechanicals and I crashed and we struggled through some DNFs. When we did finish though it seemed as if we were always in the top three and that ended up being good enough to be in second in the championship standings as we enter the last event. It’s been great.”

Second on the year is hardly assured however. Subaru factory driver Ken Block is just two points back of Sarasin, and his co-driver Mikael Johansson of Ludvika, Sweden, and Canada’s Andrew Comrie-Picard is just two points behind Block.

“There’s a lot of competition for second,” Sarasin said rather understatedly. “We need to be ready to go flat out from the beginning and take it to Ken and ACP and since we are all so bunched up there anyone of us could end up second on the season.”

So what does Sarasin expect this week in and around Houghton, Michigan, just an hour and a half or so from where he grew up in Marquette?

“This will mark the third anniversary of my participation in this rally, and I think it is the most diverse and challenging event on the rally schedule. You have no idea what type of weather and road conditions you will find and we usually take every tire we have in the garage. It can be dry at the start at snowing at the end of a stage. The surfaces themselves change from fast and flowing to muddy and big rocks and really rough and so you basically have everything.”

Sarasin recounted that he did his first rally race ever at Lake Superior in a Talon, and said they were excited just to finish of course. The next year he was in a rented Subaru, still without stage notes, and finished second in his class for the regional rally. It would be a nice progression to notch a “hometown win” in his first year in an Open class car, but for the moment anyway, Sarasin has his eyes to the sky, and the weather maps.

“I’ve been looking at the weather and it looks like temps will be cool, but not really cold, with a little rain in the forecast as well.”

I asked him if the uncertainty of the weather – and the roads – rattle him at all?

“That’s why I became a rally driver,” he said excitedly. “It’s always changing and that’s the fun part, not knowing what’s coming up. It’s so important thought that you get the car setup right and the tire choice right. You do not want to be on a stage with any snow on it with gravel tires. So you just have to be prepared and ready for everything.”

Co-driver Mikael Johansson is prepared. He told me just before hopping on a plane that would take him from Sweden to the U.S. that he would love it if they could keep the string going from the last two events.

“I hope we can make the same thing as we did at the Ojibwe Forests Rally and Rally Colorado where we placed second overall both times, but of course we need to get the ‘seconds’ on our side. It just takes more steady and fast driving that we have been doing since STPR.”

What does Johansson expect in the way of weather and conditions?

“The conditions in LSPR are always hard and tough with a lot of unexpected ‘water places.’ And this year I tell you we won´t forget the speed trap on the transits that gave us a lot of time penalty last year . The season has been fantastic and if we had better luck in the middle of the season we might have pushed Travis Pastrana for the championship. As it is, Kyle has made impressive progress and with the
right backing I think he can go as far as he wants in this sport.”

Right now, Sarasin just wants to continue his education.

“This being my first year in Open class there has been a big learning curve for sure,” said Sarasin But it’s getting better and better with each event and I really think it has been a great season. I’m super excited for the last race!”

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~ by lsprblog on October 17, 2008.

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